2023: Museum Year in Review

Part Two
An Outstanding Speaker Series, a Two-Day Conference, Growing Media Presence, Expanding Partnerships, Veterans Outreach, and New Exhibits

New Exhibits, Curator Activity

A new Sea Services exhibit invites visitors to experience firsthand how Navy sailors used to live: bunks stacked three-high, personal lockers, and warning radios. Some of the items were obtained through the museum’s partnership with the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, where the USS Yorktown is berthed. A display of Marine Corps uniforms and artifacts is on view, along with Coast Guard uniforms and photos.

veterans standing in front of convoy truck
bunk bed

Also new is the Air Force exhibit designed and created by museum Pathfinders. It tells the story of its evolution from an Army branch to a separate branch of the US Armed Forces, drawing attention to the combat as well as various combat support roles undertaken by the Air Force.

womens exhibit<br />

The museum’s Women in the Military exhibit was expanded to include historical magazines, artifacts, and an entire wall covered with photographs of 52 women veterans from WWII to the present. A Fox Carolina 21 reporter interviewed Brevard Mayor and retired Navy Captain Maureen Copelof and Museum Founder Emmett Casciato for a program titled: “Museum Changing the Narrative on Women in Uniform”.

Kids and Their Heroes

In April twenty-eight Army Junior ROTC Cadets from Asheville’s A.C. Reynolds High School and then in May 11 students from Classical Scholars School in Mills River toured the museum and talked with veteran tour guides. When kids visit the museum, we show them a collection of uniforms and let them try one on. They love it! Their parents take pictures to share with family, friends, and post on social media. The four children shown here made a thank-you card for D-Day veteran George Sarros; the 11-year-old sitting next to Sarros dressed in a Navy uniform to honor him.

veteran with family

Through Their Eyes

Through Their Eyes tells the story of Americans at war from WWI through the Global War on Terror, using images, music, video clips, professional narration, museum artifacts, and photos of local veterans. Created by museum volunteers with Real Digital Productions, it premiered in 2022 to much acclaim.

wwi movie poster

A 2023 grant from Lake Toxaway Charities called “On the Road” enabled museum volunteers to present the film throughout Western NC at schools, community centers, veterans’ facilities, and independent theaters. Thanks to this generosity, ten showings were possible. For example, in March, volunteers offered two showings at Flat Rock Bistro Cinema in Flat Rock, NC, and in June, museum volunteers presented the film to residents of the NC State Veterans Home in Black Mountain.

In March, NC Humanities, a key supporter of the film’s 2022 production, posted on their website a description of the museum and an interview with museum volunteers Michel Robertson and Carl Newman. The 44-minute film can be viewed here. Click here to view the Film.

Media, Communications and Outreach

The quality and scope of information on our website draws attention from media pursuing stories.

For example, Walt Disney Studios contacted us seeking to reach WWII pilot Ed Cottrell hoping he would act as an advisor on an historic film.

Our communications outreach for events now includes 18 media placements for each. We have 2,371 subscribers to our weekly e-newsletter, with 42% open rate. In 2023 we published 71 newsletters. 

wspa tv honors veterans

Bold Life Magazine published a 4-page story covering our A Walk Through History conference. The Transylvania Times published 47 articles about the museum in 2023. The Hendersonville Times-News published 12 articles.

In 2023, our website had 33,000 visits (about the same as 2022) with 15% being return visits. Over half are made from mobile phones. Some 80% of our website visits are generated from search engine results, with the remainder from direct entry or clicking on links from other sources to our website, including from social media and other referrals.

The museum’s social media includes Facebook, X (aka Twitter), YouTube, and Instagram. Our Facebook page, where we posted 110 stories in 2023, has 3,209 followers. Our Facebook posts received 38,200 views, with 4,200 interactions sharing or liking our content. We share with groups like “We Are Brevard NC”, making our posts available to their 30,000 followers.

We added a new YouTube feature in 2023: six volunteers presented 3-minute descriptions and stories centered on intriguing artifacts in the museum’s galleries. These videos have brought us 7,456 views so far. These were produced by our website consultant, Katy Rosenberg, who volunteered her time for this popular project.

To be continued…